Working with scientists for over a decade has taught me one thing: they are an interesting and varied bunch. Fiercely dedicated to their chosen career, love what they do, very enthusiastic when given half a chance to talk about their research, and very inquisitive. They perk up when somewhere a scientist says “huh, that’s funny.” After all, this often means there’s something new and exciting that they can dig into.
For a while now I’ve been really busy with different projects so it took me some time to finally respond to Judith Curry’s blog post. She wrote a response to my Skeptical Science article The Skepticism In Skeptical Science that I published in June of last year.
I wrote that Skeptical Science article as there’s a significant group of science deniers that present themselves as sceptics; which they aren’t. Basically, what they do is take advantage of the different meanings and connotations surrounding the words “sceptic” and “scepticism.”
The biggest threat to the denial of any scientific fact is evidence showing that there is a scientific consensus. Scientists are sceptical and questioning by their very nature. They love to poke and prod everything to see if it withstands scrutiny.
When scientists agree this is a sign that some serious prodding has ensued and that the evidence withstood it. That’s why studies like Oreskes 2004, Doran 2009, Anderegg 2010, and Cook 2013 showing that scientists agree the planet is warming and that we’re causing it are such a threat to science denial. Which then make them a prime target for attacks, I have more than enough articles on this website chronicling the attacks on just the Cook 2013 paper.
That climate change is real and that we’re causing it is the conclusion scientists have come to based on the evidence. The very same evidence is what makes scientists also very concerned about what the consequences will be if we continue adding greenhouse gasses to our planet’s atmosphere.
If up to 97% of scientists agree on this why is there so much controversy and debate about climate change? Where does this gap between the public and scientists come from? Are there psychological and social drivers that explain this? How can we get around these effects to increase acceptance of well established science? What kind of role has climate science denial played in influencing public perceptions and attitudes towards climate change?
Guest article written by Scott Mandia.
Back in January, my wife engaged a climate science doubter on Facebook. Should you consider a similar engagement, consider this: nobody doubts scientists when it comes to gravity or that the Earth revolves around the sun. These theories/laws do not pose a threat so they are widely accepted. Climate change, on the other hand, is perceived as a threat to some because they fear the solutions might result in loss of individual rights or hurt the economy. It is because of these perceived threats that they subconsciously resist the settled science.
Technology and the science it’s based on are everywhere in our society. Understanding science is crucial for navigating yourself through our society and taking part in the political process. Without this we can’t make sound decisions on what we as a society want to do.
It doesn’t mean that someone has to be completely versed in a scientific subject to make informed decisions. With the amount of information we have on all kinds of science subjects and what this means for the issues we face that is just not possible. Though at least a basic understanding is needed.
A couple of years ago Richard Muller entered the public debate on global warming. Making some very strange claims about the current temperature records and some extremely harsh accusations towards climate researchers. This of course made him a hero among climate science deniers.
He started the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project to double-check the existing temperature records and answer the, to him, valid criticisms of existing temperature reconstructions. It was no surprise to the climate research community that Muller confirmed that global warming is real and that the only plausible explanation is the increase in greenhouse gasses. This hasn’t endeared him with the climate science deniers.
When John Cook, Peter Sinclair and I were interviewing scientist at the AGU 2014 Fall Meeting John Cook asked them one last brilliant question:
Ok, you’re getting on an elevator with someone, and they say, ‘So you’re a climate scientist, what’s all this about climate change and global warming?’ You’ve got 10 floors. Go.
We got an interesting range of answers from some of the best scientists from around the world. Peter Sinclair got the idea to turn this into a video series and he has already released the first video.
During the AGU 2014 Fall Meeting John Cook, Peter Sinclair, and I interviewed a stellar list of scientists. Everyone brought their A game which gave us some incredible footage. At the end of the conference I returned home with about 36 hours of footage.
I’m already working on editing all that into videos that I can upload to my YouTube Channel. But there’s also a lot of material that I can’t use for those videos. Most of the time because they don’t fit the subject I’m tackling. Though it doesn’t mean they’re not good, quite on the contrary.
Those that reject the science behind global warming have nothing to back them. They can’t rely on the scientific literature as it clearly shows they’re wrong. They can only point to the odd flawed paper that manages to get through peer-review. If no flawed research is available then they might switch over to misrepresenting valid research. This means that they’re at odds with the majority of the scientific community and don’t get any support from them.